Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Going into the Darkest Dungeon...

I've just started playing a new game, called Darkest Dungeon.  Darkest Dungeon's core material isn't new - take a team of heroes into a dungeon, spank some monster bottom, collect goodies and haul ass out of there like the gangsta's that you are.

But, it gives a rather interesting twist, through the use of stress.

Cheerful looking place, your village, isn't it?

Because, after all, could you go into a dark dungeon, fight a group of undead monsters (or worse), fall in traps, blunder around unable to see because your last torch has run out, without feeling a bit uneasy?  I get scared by the threat of spoiled fruit being thrown at me, so going into a dungeon would leave me unhinged to say the least.

And in this game your heroes go through the same stresses.  Sometimes they scare each other - one particular hero of mine has the ability to turn into a damage-dealing monster, which sounds great, except that it promptly scares all my other folk, sometimes tipping them over the edge.

Here we are looking around a dungeon.  Nothing could go wrong, could it?
As time goes on, your characters pick up bad (and good) personality traits, some of which are obviously undesirable - for example, being prone to stress, so combat scares them even more, to more esoteric ones, like being open to delusions or turning to the dark side.

Oops - here's a pack of undead.  Luckily we've surprised them, so hopefully we'll get to give them a slap first.
At times you almost feel like you're running a mental hospital, as half of your warriors are busy resting up, recuperating, or just getting plain drunk to take their mind off what they saw in the dungeon, while the rest of your guys are braving the dungeon to try to get some money to treat the others.

Old Captain Beaky lobs some smoke at the bad guys.  That'll sort them out.
In the last dungeon I went through before writing this blog post, of my four fighters, one was at death's door (which basically means if she got hit one more time she was dead, and in this game death means death, that character is GONE), one was Paranoid and accusing the others of being traitors, one was Abusive and telling all the others just what he thought of them, and the last one had somehow gone Courageous and, despite being stood right at the back of the group, was doing his level best to inspire the others to shut up and get back to killing monsters.

And my cheeky little robber turns his little pistol into a blunderbuss, to give everyone a good hammering.
There are one or two very minor UI issues where it could be slightly slicker, but nothing that detracts from the enjoyment of the game.  

All dead - time for some loot!  That was easy...

The graphics are good, you become engaged with your characters and want to make sure that they pull through, essentially it keeps you coming back for more.  In short, if you like RPG / adventure style games, but you'd like to try something a little different, it's well worth a shot.

Saturday, 23 January 2016

A Cultured Saturday

As a rule, Saturdays are fairly routine.

Saturdays generally start with me and my son chilling out for a couple of hours with a leisurely breakfast, then we'll hit up a local soft play centre (as blogged about a number of times in the past), to be followed by lunch, some homework and general housework, tea, and then relaxing in the evening with a couple of beers.

Today, however, I decided that it would be different.

Today - we did culture!

After breakfast we went and picked up a parcel from the Royal Mail sorting office (which turned out to be an Assassins Creed style hoodie that's too small), and then we went in one of the local museums.  I haven't visited any of the local museums for years, and I forgot just how good they are, it's astounding really that you can go in all these places for free.  We ventured into a rail line signal box, briefly sat on a train carriage (slightly worryingly my son went off to sit with another father and son, but he didn't ask them to call the police or anything so that's okay), watched an old TV show and looked at lots of antique cars and hansom cabs and things.

Afterwards I got told the story of the three little pigs, and later on cooked some peppers stuffed with rice, cheese, steak, mushrooms, and onions.

Tomorrow, god willing, it'll be catching up on homework, that said I am attempting to ward off a chest infection through the use of beer, and early indications are that it isn't proving 100% effective.  Stay tuned.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Google is trying to help

Working on a story, I wanted to find a good location accessible across the world, and so turned to Google.

Got halfway through typing "easiest place in the world to get to" when Google leapt into life suggesting what I wanted.

Thanks Google - but not this time...

In other news, here's a video of me attempting to drink three beers infused with chilli, while playing FIFA 16, with some Baileys as a backup if it just got too bad. Don't worry, it's heavily edited!

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Soft Play

There is a certain incongruity when it comes to soft play centres. They are inevitably located on an industrial estate, housed within a corrugated metal shed which is typically between R J Gubbit & Sons aluminium widget manufacturing, and a waste disposal site specialising in storage of some sort of harmful substance (anthrax perhaps).

After paying to get inside (the price is dependent on the number of people entering, including adults, even though I have no intention of doing anything more energetic than unlocking my phone), you then suffer the price of refreshments. Entry, two wedges of additive-loaded cake, a fruit shoot, a ham sandwich that must have cost all of five pence to make, and a bottle of chilled water that never materialised cost a touch off seventeen pounds. After spending so much I needed a sit down. And of course a slice of cake, coloured like something you might observe in a nuclear power facility.

And yet, the sit down didn't last. The theory about these places is fine - they should be a safe, confined area for your little ones to run around and play, whilst exercising their hand-eye coordination and social skills while you get a few minutes of peace and quiet to de-stress and ruminate on everyday life (or kick the ass of "ClanChowder79" on Clash of Clans)

But that doesn't last. Unless you're fortunate enough to have the entire soft play centre to yourself (and my offspring is strangely reluctant to go at 11pm), you find yourself constantly concerned with:
A) Is any little b*******s hitting my kid, or;
B) Has my little darling found the understandable need to beat the hell out of another child (perhaps because they've got a plastic ball of a certain colour that your child needs to have - NO, NOT THE ORANGE ONE DADDY, THE PURPLE ONE!!!)

But the difference between soft play and a park is that in a park, you can actually reach the children. If your child needs adult intervention then in a park you grab them, remove them from whatever swing or slide or bouncy thing they are on, and sort things out.

In soft play however they are contained within some sort of mesh curtain, and the only way to get to them is to wriggle your way round the brightly coloured assault course that is designed for children (and so is far too small for you). The result of this is that you are not going to catch them, no matter how many slides you go down or ball pools you swim through.

Soft play is usually broken down into several sections for different ages, and rest assured that your child won't be in the one they should be - either they want to go on the biggest slide (until they get to the top and begin to cry, forcing you to tackle the route through the foam maze to rescue them), or they're in the section reserved for babies, because it makes a lot more sense to throw plastic balls at babies - after all, they can't fight back.

When you've finally, after about seven minutes, been through the Soft play area for a fifth time to pick your little darling up, you may be ready to go home.

Some people say rocket science or brain surgery are tricky - no, I think you'll find that catching a child in a soft play centre that doesn't want to be caught is the hardest task in the world.

Not only do you have to catch your child, a little human who has spent their entire life learning how to slip from your grasp, and is in an environment which makes you feel as though you're a Gulliver in a particularly strange jungle constructed from plastic and foam. Should the amazing actually happen and you do actually manage to get them you then need to get their shoes and coat on while holding them in a grip of iron to stop them escaping.

Meanwhile of course you are putting on a smiley face and a cheerful tone of voice so you seem like a cool parent who thinks its fun to get poked in the eye by a child being removed from a place where they can run, shout, jump, hit other children, and cry, without recrimination.

Still, at least it's not the supermarket.

I am apparently beginning a tradition of once a year, in January, blogging about soft play centres. Why not check out last years post?

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Laugh and be Disappointed

Have you ever wanted to laugh, and then feel disappointed in yourself?

Apparently this video makes you do that - it's a Dirty Dancing pun.  I'm not sure if there's a big demand of people wanting to feel disappointed in themselves, but here it is.  It's had quite a few views (for a video of mine at any rate)

Another video is on its way, detailing my struggles with a set of chilli infused beers...

Also, I got a tweet the other day about one of my travelling books - the book, last seen below:

This would be the National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh, Scotland

The book in question (#tbook10, aka the tenth travelling book) has been picked up in Dublin and is on its way to Amsterdam.  I do love to hear about the books and that they're still moving, my fear is that all of the books are lost or just sat on a bookshelf somewhere, and none of them are going to make their way home - hearing about them gives me a bit of hope that maybe they are still going around, I'm just not seeing them on the Internet :)

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Dave The Robot Angel

Here's a photo of my son with my GorillaPod Tripod, which is apparently a robot angel.

Called Dave.

Dave got fed carrots and mash for dinner.

Dave is now in hiding.

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Bold Claims

Yesterday I was shopping in one of the local supermarkets, and we ventured down the card aisle - I did actually need to pick up a card this time, but my son always enjoys looking at all of the different cards so we tend to go down there anyway.

Anyway, I noticed on a couple of the cards that the plastic wrapping put forward an interesting statement, as follows:

This card will keep kids happy for hours

Will it?  Will it really keep kids happy for hours?  My son is fortunate enough to have one of these fancy tablet devices, which will entertain him for a period of time, with all kinds of games, videos, and fun stuff, but even that gets boring after half an hour or so (and so it should - he's got drums to play with after all!).

Does the card dispense crisps?  Or perhaps it tastes exactly like chocolate, and yet is indestructible so you spend an eternity licking it.

I should know better really, advertising is bound to put forward these sorts of ephemeral statements.  On my desk (for reasons that have disappeared into the past) there is a spray which purports to "Eliminate tough odours for good".  Putting to one side the unlikelihood of removing a smell for eternity, what exactly is a tough odour?  I'm not sure but I think I got beaten up by one down a dark alley one evening.

Ah, perhaps I'm just getting grumpy in my old age...

In other news I've kindly been invited by Alex of Champagne & Lemonade to post on her blog, and I've talked about the products I use to keep myself looking so... um.... socially acceptable.  Do check it out and say hi!

Friday, 1 January 2016

Google Trends across the world

Happy 2016!  To all of my readers (thank you to each and every one of you that comes here, I do really appreciate it!) I hope that this year treats you well. I'm planning to do more creation of stuff - writing and videos - and I also want to collaborate more with other creators (if you have an idea, let me know)

2015 having come to an end, I discovered Google Trends the other day, which is quite cool - it was linked to on the main Google homepage a week or two back, and started off talking about what were the most searched for things in 2015, but I found that you can use Google Trends to see what is popular in other parts of the world.

For example, in Ireland they want to know how to eat pomelo and how to draw a minion, while in the UK people are more interested in how to get rid of brain freeze (perhaps they've been eating frozen pomelos).  In the UK - and Canada, for some reason - people are asking "What is a penny black stamp" (I'm disappointed in you people from the UK - it's a penny postage stamp, and was the first adhesive stamp made), however in the US they're asking "What is a lunar eclipse", which I'm also surprised at, maybe it's the term "lunar" instead of "moon"?

Meanwhile those crazy people from Holland (aka the Netherlands) are asking what is glamping.

Interestingly one of the most searched things in New Zealand is "what is the time in New Zealand" which fascinates me - do they not have watches or mobile phones with the time there?

Finally, South Africans want to know "how to smoke" while Australians are trying to find out how to tie a tie (and also make pancakes)

Finally, just one word of guidance for anyone not from the UK who is a fan of Downton Abbey - if you want to look like an absolute genius, go look up "pernicious anaemia" - when it gets to the finale you'll look amazing if you already know the answer.
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